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Research & Policy

Research and impact measurement are essential areas of activity for ITN AMERICA. Data collection begins with the application form that customers and volunteers complete when they sign up to ride or drive. We also collect information through the ITNRides system and through surveys with customers, volunteers, and family members. Research findings are used in:

  • Community Outreach presentations,
  • Grant applications for funding,
  • Recruiting customers and volunteers, and for
  • Improving the quality of service provided by affiliates.

Selected ITNAmerica research findings are summarized below.

The Annual ITN Customer Satisfaction Survey (2011)

  • 94% of customers are "very satisfied" with the service they receive, with the people at ITN, and would recommend ITN to a friend.
  • 86% of customers said they were "always" able to schedule rides at the times and on the days they needed them.
  • The vast majority said ITN office staff was "always" courteous when answering their phone calls and they "always" received a prompt response to their questions.
  • A majority of customers feel the cost of riding with ITN is either inexpensive or a fair price for the service they receive. Only 2% think it's too expensive.

The Annual ITN Volunteer Satisfaction Survey (2010)

  • 90% of volunteers rated their overall experience "excellent" or "very good."
  • The longer an individual volunteered for ITN, the more likely they rated their overall volunteer experience as "excellent."
  • More than a third said that volunteering for ITN has enriched their social lives (39%) and affected their quality of life "quite a bit" or "extremely" (34%).
  • Almost all respondents (96%) would recommend volunteering for ITN to a friend or family member.

The Impact of ITN on Quality of Life

The Atlantic Philanthropies-funded evaluation (2007-2010) was designed to measure the impact of ITN on quality of life for ITN customers, family members of ITN customers, and ITN volunteer drivers. We conducted telephone interviews with customers at three points in time, mailed surveys to family members at two points in time, and mailed a survey to volunteers.

ITN Customers showed:

  • A decrease in transportation difficulty, from 64% prior to ITN membership to 49% six months later and 43% one year later;
  • An increase in confidence in arranging personal transportation for daily needs (mean scores for an 8-item scale increased from 55.2 prior to ITN membership to 67.8 six months later and 71.6 one year later);and
  • An increase in non-drivers to level of drivers in their confidence in arranging personal transportation (mean scores were 50.1 vs. 60.3 prior to ITN membership, 68.0 vs. 67.9 six months later, and 70.2 vs. 69.4 one year later, respectively).

Six months after the family member's relative joined ITN:

  • Worry whether their relative had adequate transportation decreased from 65% to 19%;
  • Worry about their relative's safety when they traveled from home decreased from 70% to 39%; and
  • Family members who had to miss work because they had to arrange or provide transportation decreased from 64% to 27%.

ITN Volunteer Drivers derive personal and social benefits from this role and they think about and plan for their own future transportation needs and for others:

  • 66% said that volunteering for ITN has affected their quality of life "moderately," "quite a bit," or "extremely";
  • 30% have given "quite a lot" of thought to their own transportation needs when they may no longer be able to drive;
  • 40% are storing ride credits in an ITN account for their own future transportation needs; and
  • 38% are donating their credits to the Road Scholarship Fund for low income riders.

Mobility Patterns of Older Adults Who Stop or Limit Their Driving

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funded a study based on retrospective data generated by actual rides taken by members of ITNAmerica. Using the ITNRides data base, we examined travel behavior among members who took at least one ride from their place of residence between January 2004 and December 2008.

  • Medical was the most common ride purpose; 83% of members took trips for medical purposes, and medical rides accounted for 46 % of total rides during the study period.
  • Consumer purposes were the second most common ride type, representing 22% of total rides provided.  Consumer travel included rides for hair appointments, trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, bank, and the mall.
  • Social and recreation purposes were third and accounted for 13% of total rides delivered, including trips for visiting friends and family, dining out in restaurants, community affairs such as voting and attending town meetings, nursing home visits, and exercising.
  • Members also took rides to places of worship, for education purposes, for inter-modal purposes to access other transportation services, employment, and to obtain professional services.
  • Women were more likely to use the service to get to hair appointments, grocery shopping, and volunteer activities. Men took a larger percentage of rides to get to work, dine out, for nursing home visits, and to exercise.

The Health Care Practitioner's Willingness to Address the Driving Issue with Patients

Funded by the Silver Century Foundation, we completed a pilot study (4/07-8/07) to test the hypothesis that an increase in health care practitioners' knowledge regarding older driver assessment and the availability of a reliable transportation option in the community would increase their willingness to address driving safety issues with patients. AMA recommendations regarding older driver assessment and counseling and local transportation options were presented to healthcare providers attending a geriatric conference in Portland, Maine. Attendees were surveyed at three points in time.

Findings suggest that training health care practitioners on the subject of older driver issues and offering an alternative transportation option has a positive impact on how practitioners deal with these issues. Three months after the presentation:

  • 70% of respondents had changed the way they addressed driving issues;
  • 70% had increased the frequency they discussed driving cessation with patients; and
  • 66% had increased the frequency they discussed transportation alternatives with patients.

Mapping the Older Driver Evaluation Process

With a grant from the Silver Century Foundation, we conducted a pilot study (10/07-12/08) to document the older driver evaluation process with a focus on how the introduction of alternative transportation into that process might impact the older adult's transition to driving cessation. A small group of occupational therapists, physicians, and driving instructors were asked to incorporate alternative transportation information into their routine driving evaluation process and discussions and to document each of those discussions using uniform reporting forms. Interviews were conducted with each specialist at two points in time; before and after the alternative transportation information was incorporated into their driving evaluation process and discussions.

Study results indicate:

  • Older drivers are more receptive to the discussion when it occurs early in the process and before they are told they must stop driving entirely.
  • Alternative transportation discussions with older drivers are particularly beneficial when a family member is present.
  • The family member offers support and helps facilitate the transportation plan recommended by the evaluation specialist, thus creating a less difficult transition from driving to non-driving.